by Sara Michelle Fetters -
SGN A&E Writer
Scoring the bulk of the nominations, the pre-Civil War drama 12 Years a Slave and the '70s-set ABSCAM-inspired satirical black comedy American Hustle were the two big winners when the 86th annual Academy Award nominees were announced Thursday morning. The two films shared nods for Best Picture, Director (Steve McQueen, David O. Russell), Actor (Chiwetel Ejiofor, Christian Bale), Supporting Actor (Michael Fassbender, Bradley Cooper), Supporting Actress (Lupita Nyong'o, Jennifer Lawrence), Screenplay (Slave for Adapted, Hustle for Original), Editing, Costume Design and Production Design, while Amy Adams was something of a surprise Best Actress nominee giving American Hustle ten nominations to nine for 12 Years a Slave.
Other big winners included Dallas Buyers Club (Picture, Actor Matthew McConaughey, Supporting Actor Jared Leto, Original Screenplay, Editing, and Makeup & Hairstyling), Gravity (Best Picture, Director Alfonso Cuarón, Actress Sandra Bullock, Cinematography, Editing, Original Score, Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Visual Effects), The Wolf of Wall Street (Picture, Director Martin Scorsese, Actor Leonardo DiCaprio, Supporting Actor Jonah Hill and Adapted Screenplay), Nebraska (Picture, Director Alexander Payne, Actor Bruce Dern, Original Screenplay and Cinematography), Captain Phillips (Picture, Supporting Actor Barkhad Abdi, Adapted Screenplay, Editing, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing), Philomena (Picture, Actress Judi Dench, Adapted Screenplay and Original Score) and Her (Picture, Original Screenplay, Original Score, Original Song and Production Design). Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts each scored lead and supporting nods, respectively, for their work in August: Osage County, while Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine managed three nominations for Actress Cate Blanchett, Supporting Actress Sally Hawkins and Original Screenplay.
The two biggest losers of the morning were Disney's Saving Mr. Banks and the Weinstein Company's generational Civil Rights drama Lee Daniels' The Butler, both films completely shutout save a lone Original Score nomination (Thomas Newman, Saving Mr. Banks). At one point both were presumed to be major frontrunners in a number of categories, not the least of which was Best Picture, and the fact that neither Emma Thompson in the former or Oprah Winfrey in the latter picked up nods for their performances has to be seen as something of a moderate surprise. Robert Redford (All Is Lost), Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips, Saving Mr. Banks) and the entire creative team behind Ron Howard's Formula 1 racing drama Rush all had to wake up at least somewhat saddened, their collective snubbing seen as a virtual impossibility less than a month ago. Critical darling Inside Llewyn Davis directed by Joel and Ethan Coen also met with disappointment, scoring nods for Cinematography and Sound Mixing but nothing else.
Animated Feature nominees were Disney's Frozen, massively successful sequel Despicable Me 2, DreamWorks/Fox's The Croods and imports The Wind Rises (reportedly legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki's final film) and Ernest and Celine, Pixar's Monsters University noticeably absent from the category. Contenders for Documentary Feature are 20 Feet from Stardom, The Act of Killing, Cutie and the Boxer, Dirty Wars and The Square, long presumed locks Blackfish and Stories We Tell snubbed entirely. Foreign Language nods went to Belgium's The Broken Circle Breakdown, Italy's The Great Beauty, Denmark's The Hunt, Cambodia's The Missing Picture and Palestine's Omar.
As of right now, it appears the contest for Best Picture is a two-horse race between 12 Years a Slave and American Hustle with box office sensation Gravity hot on the pair's heels, and Dallas Buyers Club and Captain Phillips relative long shots to sneak up and steal away the top prize. Considering just how strong 2013 turned out to be, however, it's anyone's guess as to which direction voters will choose to go, and with a couple extra weeks to turn in ballots (courtesy of the Winter Olympics) there is ample opportunity for minds to change before final decisions are made. The 86th annual Academy Awards will be announced live Sunday, March 2 on ABC.
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